Apple seldom gives people a reason to upgrade to each new iteration of the iPad. The last major breakthrough was the Retina Display that made its way to the iPad Mini and iPad 4. This allowed readers to enjoy high-definition comics, magazines and digital media that Android users have been asking for awhile. Is the iPad 2 a worthy investment if you already have the one that launches last year?
The iPad Air 2 managed to shave off 18% off the thickness from the first generation Air; it’s now an almost impossible 6.1mm thick, and 1.4mm slimmer than the original iPad Air. At 437g, down from 469g, it’s one of the lightest large-screen tablets on the market.
Apple’s iPad Air 2 contains a new chip called the A8X, an SoC that’s faster than the A7 in the original iPad Air or the iPad Mini 2 and 3 and the A8 in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple would only say that the chip’s CPU is about 40 percent faster than the A7 and that it has a GPU that’s 2.5 times faster. It also has 2GB of RAM to keep things speedy on a hardware level.
In practice, the iPad Air 2 is capable of running programs usually seen on laptop computers. This includes the impressive video-editing capabilities of iMovie and the newly launched app Replay that synchronizes photos and videos to music. The processing boost also comes into its own when playing big-name games like FIFA 15, Modern Combat 5: Blackout, or the 1GB download Asphalt 8: Airborne.
One of the new features, not found on an Apple tablet before is Touch ID, the easy-to-use fingerprint reader introduced on the iPhone 5S, which makes security better and is needed to use the new Apple Pay service for buying things without using a credit card or typing in a credit card number. Apple Pay only works when making in-app purchases online, not in stores. Could you imagine waving your tablet around in a store? Anyways Touch ID is even more useful now than it was before; iOS 8 enabled third-party developer support for the fingerprint sensor, so you can use it to access sensitive account information or passwords.
When it comes to cameras, I can’t stand to take photos on my tablet. I have been using iPads since they first came out and buy each new generation. I don’t think I have ever taken a single picture, but than again I am likely not the target demographic. The iPad Air 2 steps up to 8MP resolution, whereas the iPad Air 1 only had a 5MP rear facing camera. The new camera has a Image Signal Processor (ISP) as part of the new A8X chipset. On the software side, the new camera comes with Burst Mode, as well as slow-motion video capture in 720p at 120fps. There’s still no LED flash on front or back this time around, however.
Here’s what the iPad Air 2 doesn’t have: A higher-resolution screen, a bigger screen, longer battery life, a snap-on keyboard, Beats Audio, better speakers,or a lower base price.
Apple Introduces new SIM technology
Apple has introduced a new way to change carrier companies for data plans without having the swap out the SIM card. This convenience is limited to just a few countries and carriers at launch — Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T in the US and EE in the UK — but over time, the selection of willing operators may improve.
The way this works is an option in the settings menu for internet access. You can change who you deal with on the fly and the SIM is automatically changed to the carrier you want to deal with. This may pave the way for incentives to keep people loyal or special events to get everything to switch to your company at once for a limited promotion.
The Apple iPad Air 2 has a staggering resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels. Nothing much has changed since the iPad 4 and this tablet is still the flagship model that companies turn to, for HD content.
For example, Comixology a few years ago developed a new HD comics standard called CMX HD. This dramatically increased the resolution and vibrancy of digital comics. SD comics often take up about 80 MB of storage, but HD editions often are as large as 300-400 MB. This is a privilege only Apple users enjoy, and has still not crossed over to Android, due to the fragmentation of screen sizes and varying degrees of resolution.
Apple was able to ultimately trim down the iPad by using a laminated, optically bonded, no-gap display similar to the ones used on the iPhone and even the Microsoft Surface tablets. Not only does the new panel save vertical space by eliminating any gaps of air between the display layers, but it also makes the screen significantly less reflective. This is meant to reduce the amount of glare hitting the screen, whether you’re reading in direct sunlight or watching movies under harsh fluorescent lights. I’m happy to report that it works as advertised
The iPad Air 2 is not worth the upgrade if you already have the Air 1. Aside from the enhanced hardware, better camera and Touch ID, there simply isn’t anything compelling. The Absence of NFC relegates Apple Pay to being able to make App Store purchases, without having to type in your password. This might be useful for busy households with kids, who you don’t want them racking up thousands of dollars with Candy Crush micro-transactions.
The Air 2 is worth it to upgrade to, if you have a three or four year old Apple Tablet, you will notice a dramatic improvement when it comes to reading, but you are better off buying the iPad Air 1 if you can get a good deal on eBay or your local tech store.
9.7-inch, 2048×1546 display with 264 ppi
A8X 64-bit chip, M8 motion coprocessor
8MP iSight (front-facing) camera, 1.2MP FaceTime HD (front-facing) camera
802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
6.1 mm thick, under 1 lb
MSRP: Wi-fi – $499 (16GB), $599 (64GB), $699 (128GB); Wi-Fi + Cellular – $629 (16GB), $729 (64GB), $829 (128GB)
Anti-reflection screen coating
Wireless Connection is faster
Very Minor Upgrade
No Mute button or rotation lock
Apple SIM does not work in Canada or Australia
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.